When it comes to sake categories, sparkling sake is growing in popularity, due to the similar characteristics it shares with champagne and because there’s a lot of creativity going on in the space. So, when a sparkling sake producer pops up in the UK, it’s something to shout about and that’s certainly the case with The Sparkling Sake Brewery.
Based in the suburbs of Cambridgeshire, The Sparkling Sake Brewery is the first of its kind in the UK and there’s a great story behind its genesis. Read on to learn more about the philosophy of the brewery and where it hopes to take sparkling sake in the future.
The beauty of nature’s impermanence
Founded by Naoki Toyota, the brand takes inspiration from the concept of impermanence through the lens of both Japanese and English culture. It’s the idea that humans coexist with nature and that we live alongside so many different organisms.
This comes through in the fermentation world, where beauty is to be found in microorganisms like koji and yeast. They alter themselves in accordance with their environment and people work with them to change ingredients into delicious sake.
This philosophy has had a big impact on Toyota and his life in England. In 2017, he had his first child and during a time when his wife had enrolled in business school in London he decided to take a two year paternity leave and come over to the UK to support his family.
From there, he explored many English gardens with his daughter and he was struck by how each space was allowed to grow naturally and never looked the same each day.
Feeling a connection to this idea, Toyota started brewing cloudy sparkling sake and this led him to take a specialised sake training course in Nara. He worked under the legendary sake and shochu maker Mr Kurose, who’s famous for producing Hyakunen no Kodoku shochu.
Elevating sparkling sake in the UK
Through this training and idea generation, Toyota was able to visualise the identity of the Sparkling Sake Brewery and designed a logo that reflects his philosophy.
The logo is crafted in the image of a traditional Japanese hanko stamp, with the lines inside the circle drawn in Japanese hiragana script to mean ‘awa’ or sparkling. The logo also has free flowing lines to represent impermanence and the unpredictability of nature.
The Sparkling Sake Brewery recently announced the launch of its flagship product awa and the brewery has described it in the following way:
“We do not take a homogeneous approach such as adding alcohol or water and using artificial enzymes or injecting additional bubbles (CO2) into the product. We simply bottle the sparkling sake as it is at that very fleeting moment in time. The fermentation world is directly related to changes in nature – weather, temperature, humidity etc.
This means every batch, each moment, has its own subtle unique flavour profile and bubbly essence even though it is produced by the same ingredients and brewing process. You can enjoy the beauty of nature’s impermanence through our art – awa.”
To produce the sake, the brewery uses Cambridgeshire water, which has a high mineral count and helps to create sake with delicate acidity. The rice that’s used is Hinohikari table rice harvested from Nara and that’s polished down to 70%. This is a deliberate decision, as the brewery is focused on showcasing that great sake can be produced with organic table rice and doesn’t always have to be brewed with specialised sake rice.
It’s an exciting time for sparkling sake in the UK and The Sparkling Sake Brewery is sure to go from strength to strength in the years to come. To learn more about their story, check out the website.